The exchange of experience in news agencies’ reactions during crises and in the establishment of regional correspondent bureaus was the topic of the meeting of Bulgarian News Agency’s (BTA) Director General Kiril Valchev and the Regional Manager of the Anadolu Agency in Gaziantep, South-Central Turkiye, Kerem Kocalar, held at the office of the Turkish national news agency in the city.
The Gaziantep region was one of the hardest hit by the devastating earthquake of 7.8 on the Richter scale on February 6, which affected Southern and Central Turkiye and Northern and Western Syria, and killed nearly 60,000 people, including over 50,000 in Turkiye.
Of the 11 Turkish Provinces affected by the earthquake, six are covered by the Anadolu Agency’s office in Gaziantep. Some 25,000 of the quake’s victims in Turkiye were in this area where 21,000 houses have been affected, of which over a 1,000 completely destroyed, Kocalar said. He explained that 25 employees work for the Anadolu Agency’s Gaziantep representative office, of whom three had their houses destroyed and some lost relatives during the disaster. Eight of the employees work in the main town of Gaziantep and seventeen in the remaining 9 districts, while the agency also works with about 50 freelance correspondents (freelancers).
The experience of colleagues from the Anadolu Agency can be used in the development of the BTA correspondent network in the country, Valchev noted. According to him, this experience shows that a modern news agency should rely on teams, not just one correspondent in regional centres, and should aim to be able to rely on freelance correspondents in each municipality, as the Anadolu Agency does.
“For a quick response to crisis situations such as the earthquake in Turkiye this year, news agencies should also create an organisation where they can rely on reporters and editors on standby around the clock, who are ready to provide timely information to all media outlets, Valchev said. He stressed that the BTA is currently working on just such an organisation, using the experience of agencies such as Anadolu Agency.
Valchev spoke to Kocalar about BTA’s permanent correspondent’s office in Ankara, which was opened shortly before the earthquake, as well as about the coverage of the quake by the agency’s correspondent Nora Cholakova. Kocalar suggested that she can use Anadolu Agency’s representative office in Gaziantep when covering events in the area.
On Monday, the BTA Director General will visit the Anadolu Agency’s office in Adana, the main city of another earthquake-hit region.